Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography
P. D. James
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On the day she turned seventy-seven, internationally acclaimed mystery writer P. D. James embarked on an endeavor unlike any other in her distinguished career: she decided to write a personal memoir in the form of a diary. Over the course of a year she set down not only the events and impressions of her extraordinarily active life, but also the memories, joys, discoveries, and crises of a lifetime. This enchantingly original volume is the result.
Time to Be in Earnest offers an intimate portrait of one of most accomplished women of our time. Here are vivid, revealing accounts of her school days in Cambridge in the 1920s and '30s, her happy marriage and the tragedy of her husband's mental illness, and the thrill of publishing her first novel, Cover Her Face, in 1962. As she recounts the decades of her exceptional life, James holds forth with wit and candor on such diverse subjects as the evolution of the detective novel, her deep love of the English countryside, her views of author tours and television adaptations, and her life-long obsession with Jane Austen. Wise and frank, engaging and graceful, this "fragment of autobiography" will delight and surprise P. D. James's admirers the world over.
lords and masters and regard them as young gods. Even the Duke, one of Trollope’s most successful and remarkable characters, loses my sympathy when he treats Mrs. Finn with ungentlemanly callousness and injustice. I had planned today to go to Hatfield to have lunch with Clare and visit Lady Salisbury’s garden, which is only open on Mondays. However, I had a telephone call from Kay Harper at Swavesey to say that Doris was dying and would like to see me. I caught the 10:15 train from King’s Cross,
female novelists. It will thus become a study and conference centre and I hope will occasionally also be opened to the general public. Accompanied by the architect working on the restoration, I was able to see round the house before I gave my talk. Like most Elizabethan manors it strikes one as very dark, with low ceilings, leaded windows and wood-lined walls. The date, 1588, on one of the immense fireplaces identifies the age of the original building. The work of restoration is proving
that the latter should appeal to a child so young, but I was hungry for books and this was one I could both read and to an extent understand, although the irony must have eluded me. Jane Austen has remained my favourite author. It seems extraordinary, if indeed it is true, that she was once seen as a gently born, pure-minded spinster, dutiful daughter, compliant sister, affectionate aunt. We don’t need the letters to show us a different Jane. There is passion in the novels, even if it is too
if only because characters in these series so frequently ask “Heard anything yet from Forensic, Sarge?” Realism, including scientific realism, has also been encouraged by the modern fashion for professional detectives as opposed to the old reliance on the omni-talented, eccentric and romanticized amateur. And those of us who aspire to create a credible professional detective must take trouble over our research, not only into police procedure but into modern scientific methods of investigating
of Food to find the lawn of Christ’s College completely covered with sleeping and exhausted soldiers, gaunt-faced and mud-stained and still in their battle dress. They were part of the remnant of the Dunkirk evacuation. I’ll never know how and by what means they found themselves apparently dumped at this incongruous staging post. Our entertainment came from the wireless and from films. The war years produced some memorable films: Stagecoach, Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and Of Mice and